32°Snow

by Ethan Rothstein — December 31, 2014 at 10:45 am 503 0

Arlington County courthouse and police headquartersThere will be no parking enforcement the first two days of 2015.

Arlington county offices, including libraries, the DMV select and the Department of Human Services, are closed tomorrow and Friday (Jan. 1-2), and parking enforcement officers will also be taking the day off.

The Circuit, General District and Juvenile and Domestic Relations courts all close at noon today (Wednesday) and are closed the rest of the week. Arlington Public Schools won’t reopen until Monday, Jan. 5.

In addition to the courts, offices and schools, Arlington’s community centers will close at 5:00 p.m. tonight and not reopen until Saturday. The grounds of the parks will remain open, but all parks programming is cancelled.

Like last week, there will be no trash collection on Thursday, and those with Thursday curbside collection should leave their bins at the side of road by 6:00 a.m. on Friday, to be collected with the Friday routes. Some collection may bleed into Saturday, the county says.

Only ART buses 41 and 51 will be operating on New Year’s Day, on their Sunday schedules. Along with 41 and 51, routes 51, 77 and 87 will also operate on Sunday schedules on Friday.

by Ethan Rothstein — December 23, 2014 at 10:30 am 584 0

Inflatable Christmas decorations at a home in the Aurora Highlands neighborhoodMost offices and facilities of the Arlington County government will be open tomorrow during Christmas Eve, but will then close until Monday, Dec. 29.

All of the courts in the Arlington County Justice Center will be closed tomorrow, Dec. 24, and the DMV select will close tomorrow at noon.

Arlington Public Schools will also be closed on Dec. 24, and students won’t return to school until Monday, Jan. 5.

All county community centers and recreational classes are cancelled for Christmas and the day after, but parks grounds remain open at normal hours.

Parking will not be enforced on Dec. 25 or Dec. 26.

Those with Thursday trash and recycling collection will have their scheduled pushed back a day, and should put their cans on the side of the road by 6:00 a.m. on Friday. Those with Friday pickup will be on their normal schedule in all likelihood — because of the added workload, some houses might not see their trash picked up until 5:00 p.m. Saturday, according to the county.

Only ART buses 41 and 51 will be operating on Christmas Day, on their Sunday schedules. Along with 41 and 51, routes 51, 77 and 87 will also operate on Sunday schedules on friday.

There will be no parking enforcement on either day. Regular services and schedules resume on Saturday, and offices will reopen on Monday.

Flickr pool photo by Desiree L.C.

by Ethan Rothstein — December 22, 2014 at 10:30 am 997 0

Arlington Economic Development Director Victor Hoskins (photo courtesy Arlington County)Victor Hoskins will be Arlington’s new economic development director starting on Jan. 20, and he will be the head of his third D.C. area economic development department within a year.

Hoskins was announced Friday afternoon as the successor to lead Arlington Economic Development after former director Terry Holzhiemer died of a heart attack in March. Holzheimer had led the department since 2005. Cindy Richmond has been serving as acting AED director in the interim.

Hoskins comes to Arlington after serving as Prince George’s County, Md.’s deputy chief administrative officer for Economic Development and Public Infrastructure. Hoskins started in that position on June 16 this year. Before working for Prince George’s, he was D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s deputy mayor for planning and economic development from 2011 to earlier this year.

“Victor will bring a wealth of experience, creativity and dynamism to our team. He will be leading AED at a time of increased challenges and opportunities for Arlington,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a press release.

Hoskins has a long track record of working in D.C. and Maryland in both housing and economic development, serving as former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s cabinet secretary of the Department of Housing and Community Development. From 2009-2011, he was the vice president of Quadel Consulting, a District-based affordable housing consulting and training firm.

“I’m excited to join the Arlington team, and look forward to marketing a County known across the nation as a leader in transit-oriented, sustainable development,” Hoskins said in a statement. “I can’t wait to be a part of this innovative government that holds itself to the highest ethical standards and promotes a healthy work-life balance.”

When Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker hired Hoskins in the spring, he told the Washington Post Hoskins “is someone who is known in the region as a person who is getting things done.”

Photo courtesy Arlington County

by Ethan Rothstein — December 19, 2014 at 1:30 pm 832 0

arlington-va-logoArlington has hired a former Department of Homeland Security official as a deputy county manager in charge of the Department of Environmental Services.

Carol Mitten most recently served as Executive Director for Urban Affairs and Headquarters Consolidation at Homeland Security, before which she was chief of the Land Resources Program Center for the National Capital Region at the National Park Service, according to the county’s press release.

“I am thrilled to have Carol join my team,” Donnellan said in the release. “She brings broad and deep experience, as well as a fresh perspective.”

Mitten will oversee Arlington’s largest department, which deals with everything from the county’s roads and waste collection to local transit and parking. She starts work on Jan. 5.

Mitten will be Donnellan’s second deputy county manager, joining Mark Schwartz, who’s been Donnellan’s second-in-command since 2010. Donnellan also employs six assistant county managers among her staff.

Mitten’s experience in local government came across the river, while serving on the District’s Zoning Commission.

“While working in D.C. government, I came to deeply appreciate the positive impact that local government can have on the lives of our community,” Mitten said in the release. “This is where I developed my passion for local government, and I’m so pleased to be joining the Arlington team.”

Arlington’s full announcement of Mitten’s hiring, after the jump: (more…)

by ARLnow.com — December 17, 2014 at 10:45 am 2,345 0

Arlington County has been trying to figure out how to better reach out to the hordes of young apartment-dwellers who make up a significant portion of the county’s population, but who are usually nowhere to be found during community meetings.

“It’s not always easy to reach certain parts of the community,” Arlington Public Library Director Diane Kresh says in a new county-produced video (above). “We’ve tried several methods over the years — community meetings in schools, in community centers — and typically the same people would come out each time. So what we decided we needed to do was try something different.”

To help design events and services tailored to the elusive mid-20s to mid-30s professional set — dubbed “Metro Renters” — county staff is taking an approach called “Design Thinking,” which builds a needs profile through interviews with members of a given group.

“Design Thinking is a system of methods and processes that uses a designer’s sensibility to match people’s needs with what is feasible and viable,” explains Dept. of Environmental Services program manager Joan Kelsch.

Via interviews, the county developed the following profile of “Metro Renters.”

  • They want their resources to be quick and convenient and are willing to pay top dollar if it fulfills their needs in a hurry
  • They’re tech savvy and they can’t function without their mobile devices
  • They’re highly educated with varied reading interests
  • They listen to NPR on weekday mornings and track the news online all day
  • They work hard and play hard
  • Hanging out with friends is important
  • They like good food
  • Many don’t have cars so location is important
  • They enjoy a quiet, relaxing environment for conversation with a friend
  • Many are also interested in meeting potential life partners, so activities and places that give them something to do where they can meet new people with common interests are good
  • They consider themselves hard working and busy people without a lot of free time, so anything they attend should have an immediate impact on their lives or otherwise be important to them

If you have first-hand familiarity with the “Metro Renter” set, how would you grade the county’s job of producing a broadly accurate profile of the average 25-35 year old Metro corridor renter in Arlington?

by ARLnow.com — December 17, 2014 at 9:00 am 1,646 0

Kirkwood Road near Clarendon (Flickr pool photo by Alves Family)

HOT Lane Lawsuit May Haunt County — At a time when the state is studying HOT lanes and other possible changes to I-66 inside the Beltway, Arlington County’s past actions may come back to haunt it. County officials “burned some bridges” when they filed a lawsuit against VDOT in 2009 to block HOT lanes on I-395. The county has also lost some regional credibility by abruptly canceling the streetcar project. Efforts by Arlington to oppose any changes on I-66, therefore, may fall on deaf ears. [InsideNova]

Incubator Launches in Crystal City — Eastern Foundry, a “veteran-owned government technology and innovation incubator,” celebrated its launch in Crystal City yesterday. The company held a ribbon cutting ceremony with Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Vornado/Charles E. Smith president Mitchell Schear. [PR Web]

Man Arrested for Arlington Attack — Fairfax County Police have arrested a man wanted for allegedly attacking his ex-wife’s boyfriend in Arlington. In the June 15 attack on Columbia Pike, police say Edwin Patino-Medina ripped two necklaces off the boyfriend’s neck then tried to run him over with a car. [WUSA 9]

Menorah Lighting Tonight — Last night was the first night of Hanukkah. Tonight, in the park next to the Clarendon Metro station, Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington will hold a menorah lighting and community celebration. The event kicks off at 6:00 p.m. and features a “giant 6 foot menorah” plus music, potato latkes, chocolate gelt and “dreidels for all.” Tomorrow, the group will hold its annual Chanukah on Ice event at the Pentagon Row ice rink.

Flickr pool photo by Alves Family

by ARLnow.com — December 3, 2014 at 9:10 am 1,198 0

A building in the midst of being torn down on a rainy day in Rosslyn

Civ Fed: Start Over on ‘Public Land’ Process — The Arlington Civic Federation voted last night for a resolution calling on Arlington County to restart its “Public Land for Public Good” affordable housing initiative. The compromise measure called for a more robust community process to discuss the idea of using publicly-owned land to build affordable housing facilities. The county’s Long Range Planning Committee has made a similar recommendation, as we reported yesterday. [InsideNova]

Stagnant Assessments Poses Challenge — Stagnant real estate assessments are causing problems for local governments around the D.C. region. In Fairfax County, it’s contributing to a $173 million budget gap. Arlington has fared better, thanks to its location adjacent to the District and the higher proportion of commercial real estate in the county (commercial property owners pay about half of all county taxes). Still, the poor state of the regional office market means that localities can’t rely on a rise in commercial property taxes to bail out homeowners. The choice for local governments, says a George Mason University study, is now to raise taxes on homeowners, cut spending or both. [Washington Post]

GW Parkway Reopens After Sinkhole Repairs — The southbound lanes of the GW Parkway reopened early this morning after repairs were made to a large sinkhole that formed between Spout Run and Route 123.

by ARLnow.com — November 24, 2014 at 9:30 am 1,458 0

Pizza makers at Pupatella in Bluemont (Flickr pool photo by Chris)

Route 50 Trail Proposed — The Washington Area Bicyclist Association has proposed connecting existing trail infrastructure along Route 50 to create a contiguous trail between the National Mall and Fairfax City. The potential project faces a number of challenges, including its estimated $40 million price tag. [Greater Greater Washington]

‘Arlington Archive’ to Be Studied — Arlington County will assemble a task force that will spend all of 2015 trying to figure out a plan for the county to preserve its history with a digital “Arlington Archive.” [Arlington County]

Wakefield Falls to Tuscarora –Wakefield High School’s story book football season came to an end Friday when the Warriors fell to the top-ranked and undefeated Tuscarora Huskies 42-14. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Chris

by ARLnow.com — November 14, 2014 at 9:25 am 1,687 0

Air Force Memorial and Pentagon City in the fall (Flickr pool photo by Starbuck77)

Wizards Look at Crystal City, Ballston — Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is reportedly narrowing in on three sites — in Crystal City, Ballston and in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood — as the potential location for the team’s future $40-50 million practice facility. [Washington Post]

New Cultural Affairs Director — Michelle Isabelle-Stark has been named Arlington County’s new Director of Cultural Affairs, overseeing Artisphere and the county’s art programs. Isabelle-Stark most recently held a similar position in Suffolk County, New York. [Arlington Economic Development]

Backup QB Leads Yorktown into Playoffs — Charlie Tiene, a top lacrosse prospect who skipped football for the golf team last year, will lead the Yorktown Patriots in the their first-round playoff game tonight. Tiene was named the team’s quarterback after starting QB Joe McBride went down with an ACL injury. [Washington Post]

Signature Developing Two New Musicals — Shirlington’s Signature Theatre is developing two new musicals: Midwestern Gothic and the Christmas-themed Silver Belles. [Playbill]

Snow in Arlington — Reagan National Airport reported a trace amount of snowfall overnight. [National Weather Service]

Flickr pool photo by Starbuck77

by ARLnow.com — November 12, 2014 at 2:30 pm 412 0

Arlington County has released a new video with tips for keeping yourself and county workers safe on the roads.

The brief video (above) includes the following tips for driving in the vicinity of county work trucks.

1. Slow down around work zones and provide county vehicles and personnel additional space needed to safely operate
2. Stay out of truck blind spots, located between the doors and the rear of the vehicle
3. Do not pull in front of a truck when you need to stop or slow down
4. Be sure to signal your intentions and do not make moves abruptly
5. When parking, be sure to park as close to the curb as possible
6. Always be a PAL (predictable, alert and lawful) on the roads

The video encourages residents who have complaints about unsafe behavior on the part of county truck drivers to call Arlington’s risk management office at 703-228-4444.

by Ethan Rothstein — November 3, 2014 at 3:30 pm 2,701 0

Jail cell(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) Arlington County will no longer ask many job applicants about their criminal record prior to an interview.

The county announced today it would be “banning the box” on job applications that asked prospective employees about their criminal records. A current application for an open position on the county’s website doesn’t include a criminal record question.

“Taking this step reinforces our commitment to fair hiring practices,” said Marcy Foster, the county’s Department of Human Resources director, in a press release. “And ‘banning the box’ will help ensure that happens.”

For positions related to public safety, like police officers and firefighters, asking about criminal convictions will still be part of the application process, and “questions regarding criminal convictions may still be asked at the time of the interview,” the county said.

By “banning the box,” Arlington joins Alexandria, Newport News, Norfolk and Richmond — along with 10 states — as jurisdictions that no longer ask about criminal convictions in the first phase of job applications. While criminal records never were a disqualification for employment in Arlington, the county said, “they can be a barrier to employment for anyone with a criminal record, negatively impacting millions of Americans.”

“Allowing these candidates to proceed further into the process creates opportunities that may otherwise have been lost, and provides candidates with a more level playing field during the application process,” the press release states.

Arlington will also no longer ask questions about convictions for driving under the influence, except for jobs that require the applicant to operate a motor vehicle. If a candidate is selected for a job, the county will still perform its standard background check.

“Allowing these candidates to proceed further into the process creates opportunities that may otherwise have been lost, and provides candidates with a more level playing field during the application process,” the county said, in a press release. “Arlington County is committed to being an equal opportunity employer, and to attracting, developing and retaining a diverse workforce to serve the community.”

by ARLnow.com — October 27, 2014 at 4:30 pm 2,375 0

The group Arlingtonians for Sensible Transit (AST) is responding to the county’s stated benefits of the Arlington streetcar project with a set of ads claiming a streetcar “doesn’t make any sense.”

The four ads posted on the group’s “Myth Busters Page” focus on streetcar capacity, dedicated lanes and comparisons to buses and Metro. They feature a woman and man talking about why the county says residents would benefit from a streetcar, with most of the clips ending on the man stating, “That doesn’t make any sense.”

“Streetcar supporters have tried to mislead the public into thinking that streetcars on Columbia Pike would be just like Metro, and that only streetcars have the capacity to handle ridership growth. Supporters also argue that bus rapid transit (BRT) cannot be a transit upgrade on the Pike because BRT requires a dedicated lane,” said Peter Rousselot, a leader of AST and an ARLnow.com opinion columnist. “AST’s new ads feature two AST supporters who explain succinctly why these claims by streetcar supporters are false and make no sense.”

Over the summer, the county released several videos explaining “Why Streetcar.” Last month, the County Board approved a $26 million preliminary design and engineering contract for the streetcar project. That’s 5.4 percent of the estimated $481 million total project cost.

by ARLnow.com — September 11, 2014 at 10:30 am 901 0

John Vihstadt debates at the Arlington Civic federation on Sept. 2, 2014(Updated at 11:20 a.m.) Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt is calling for a stronger gifts policy for county government employees and officials.

The county’s current Code of Ethics says that county workers should “ensure that no favors, gifts, gratuities or benefits are received for actions taken.”

Additionally, conflict-of-interest rules state that county employees “may not accept personal gifts, gratuities, or loans from organizations, businesses, or individuals with whom the employee conducts or will conduct official County business.”

(The rule does not apply to “articles of negligible value that are distributed to the general public,” “social courtesies which promote good public relations,” and “obtaining loans from regular lending institutions.”)

Vihstadt is calling for a specific $100 gift limit from any source, in addition to prohibiting gifts given in exchange for official actions.

Vihstadt, who is running for re-election against challenger Democrat Alan Howze, issued the following press release this morning.

Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt is calling for a firmer and more specific ethics policy regarding gifts to either county board members or county employees.

Vihstadt, an Independent running for re-election Nov. 4, said, “Arlington must signal its commitment to foster the highest standards of ethical conduct” in the wake of the convictions of former governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen on multiple corruption charges.

“To start, the County should consider adoption of a $100 value limit on gifts from any source per year, and provide that in no instance shall a board member or county employee accept a gift given for services performed within the scope of an employee’s duties or given with intent to influence one’s actions” he added.

The current county ethics policy places no dollar limit on gifts to board members or employees. Vihstadt also noted that the current ethics policy describes “principles” of proper conduct. “This is more limited than what I am calling for, which is (a) a rule and not a principle and, (b) I prohibit anything intended to influence – not just items received for actions taken.”

Vihstadt noted that Arlington Public Schools adopted a similar provision effective July 1, and that Gov. Terry McAuliffe has likewise taken comparable strong steps for himself and senior staff in Richmond.

“We must work hard to restore trust in our elected leaders and public officials at all levels of government, Vihstadt said. “Let’s do our part in Arlington now.”

by Ethan Rothstein — September 3, 2014 at 2:45 pm 797 0

Candlelight vigil for Washington-Lee student John Malvar(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) Arlington County’s new special events policy, revised this summer to ensure bar crawl organizers pay for the support costs of their events, has raised eyebrows for appearing to require permits and cost reimbursements for vigils and protests.

The Special Events Policy, approved by the Arlington County Board on July 19, states “the county will charge special-event organizers for ‘personnel and services on a 100 percent cost-recovery basis unless prohibited by law.’ Permits must be obtained for ALL special events and demonstrations.”

The county defines demonstrations, for the purpose of the policy, as “any picketing, speech making, marching, holding vigils or religious services and other like forms of conduct, in Public Spaces, which involves the communication or expression of views or grievances, is engaged in by one or more persons, and has the effect, intent or propensity to attract a crowd or onlookers.”

However, county spokeswoman Mary Curtius said the administrative regulation is still being written, and the county will not ask those holding “First Amendment” activities like protests, rallies or vigils to recoup the county for its costs.

“The Policy is designed to address the impacts caused when large crowds gather in public spaces for any purpose, including demonstrations and other expressive activities,” Curtius told ARLnow.com in an email. “The Policy does not prohibit such gatherings, and does not apply to every instance where citizens or groups gather to exercise rights protected by the First Amendment. It only applies when the crowd that gathers is large enough to interfere with the use of the public space by the rest of the public, and presents significant public safety risks and other costs that will otherwise have to be borne by the public.

“This has been a part of County policy for a number of years,” Curtius continued. “To date, based on the size of the groups involved, a permit has not been required for a demonstration or other similar activity.”

While not necessarily required, the county is expected to encourage organizer of so-called First Amendment activities to apply for permits so police and county staff can make appropriate preparations. County officials said that any ambiguity in the policy will be clarified through administrative regulations.

Hat tip to Suzanne Sundberg. File photo

by Ethan Rothstein — September 3, 2014 at 1:45 pm 1,406 0

Screenshot of the ArlingtonVA iPhone appThe ArlingtonVA mobile app, which allows residents to report potholes and maintenance problems, among other services, has at least one happy customer.

“Last week, my kids were playing at the new rope park (at Rocky Run Park on N. Barton Street), I noticed a loose bolt on the climbing rope, took a photo, submitted through the [mobile] app and it was fixed within 48 hours,” Clarendon resident Izzy Tepekoylu told ARLnow.com in an email. “Wow! This is how a local government should work! Very impressed. I don’t think I ever thought I’d say this, but this made me feel good about my local taxes.”

The app is available on iPhone and Android devices. It allows users to see pending service requests in their area, check on the requests’ status, and submit their own. Users can also look up what items are recyclable in the county and what aren’t, and view county and Arlington County Police Department press releases.

“I had submitted a bunch of potholes through the app before and all were fixed, everyone should use it, it’s great,” Tepekoylu wrote. “We always write about complaints and what is broken etc., I thought we should also write about the good stuff as well.”

The app doesn’t have any reviews on iTunes, but it has three five-star reviews and two one-star reviews on the Google Play store. The app was updated in July, with a new user interface and a “streamlined request submission workflow.”

The free app has 1,588 downloads from iTunes since it launched in February, according to county spokeswoman Jennifer Smith, and 514 on Android. Of all electronically submitted requests for service, about 25 percent come from the apps, Smith said, and 75 percent come from the “Report a Problem” web page.

In August, there were 151 submissions for service on the from the mobile app, which, along with the web page, was developed by New York City-based tech company Public Stuff.

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